Author: Muhammed Khan
Buy: Amazon US
Stunning. Stunning. Stunning! Thank you so much to my librarian for showing me this book because it was phenomenal. I Am Thunder is a brilliant YA novel focussed on the prejudice against Muslims and the threat of radicalisation from the viewpoint of a high school student. Muzna has lived her life with her strict parents showing her that she is Pakistani first, Muslim second and British last – if at all. After moving schools, she meets a boy who treats her like she will become something, and she discovers freedom. It sounds quite fluffy at this point but (without spoiling anything) events begin to take a dark turn as she is torn between the hate people give her, and the possibility of hating them in return.
My knowledge of Islam is limited, which is why I was so keen to pick up this book. I’m an atheist, but understanding religion is something I not only find fascinating, but essential as well. Muzna is from a background of conservative Islam, trying not to obviously be religious due to their fear of prejudice. Firstly, I found this heart-breaking. To know that people feel the need to hide who they are in fear of hate is shocking – and I hope books like this can show the awfulness of Islamophobia and bring about change.
Radicalisation is not something often depicted in novels, especially YA. However, this book shows how slowly it can weed into a person – without them really realising it; how sly extremists are when it comes to manipulation. But what I appreciated in this book is that Muslims were treated as the victims, not the masterminds, of this radicalisation. This is how people should be viewing extremism! It’s horrific that terror attacks are caused by people using religion as an excuse, and the people who truly believe in this religion are taking the fall!
Even with the themes aside, I Am Thunder is an excellent YA novel. The language is so colloquial and readable; time past so quickly whilst I was reading it! The plot develops quickly, but almost under the radar, so that you can’t really tell how intense things are until it hits you like a train.
The author is own voice, so I hope that he is able to portray an honest experience of being a British Muslim. However, if you don’t agree with the way themes are tackled in this novel, please tell me and I’ll add your thoughts to this review. But otherwise, this read was both enjoyable and enlightening – an emotional rollercoaster.